The District CE Primary School in Newton le Willows, is a flagship school for the One Education Reading Award.
This is due to their amazing understanding of the importance of ‘Reading for Pleasure’ and the provision that is in place for such an amazing reading culture within the school. The District CE Primary School has been innovative and revolutionary in its approach to raising the profile of reading. The Year of Reading project (2014-2015) aimed to show pupils the value the school puts on reading. The aim was to utterly drench the pupils in reading. They succeeded in waves, and continued beyond the Year of Reading so that it has become the culture of the school.
Reading - the Key to Success
The District understands the research which shows that reading is the key to success, not just for reading but for the whole of the curriculum (check out their twitter page for the STEM-sational science project that the school completed 2016/17). Yet the school goes further than understanding the research and the importance of reading for children. There is a huge passion for building a love of reading in all children. Like many schools, The District believes that there is a book (or newspaper, or comic, or sports programme…) for everyone and they are so set on finding the hook to get everyone reading, that they will stop at nothing. If it takes a film to get their interest, if it takes baking cakes to get their interest, if it takes robots, nail polish, rugby or dinosaurs….they don't care if it helps to hook children into becoming lifelong readers.
District Reader: Lifetime Achiever!
The whole school oozes reading, creating an environment that shouts ‘books, books, books’! Inspiring reading quotes are all around school. The fantastic ‘story-steps’ are the talk of any visitor. Neil Bushnell, the school’s Patron of Reading 2014/15 couldn’t wait to be photographed on them. You have to visit to believe it. Just try saying ‘District Reader’ to any pupil, and be sure you’ll have several smile and shout back, ‘Lifetime Achiever!’
The project started as it intended to go on with #TheBigBedtimeStory. The school community came together: families, all generations. The hot chocolate flowed and the campfire glowed. It was stories, snuggles and smiles galore. The overwhelming response set the tone for what was to be an astounding year! These book nights have continued year upon year. A particular favourite was the magical transformation of the school hall into Hogwarts. The young wizards arrived through platform 9 and ¾ and were dazzled by floating candles and more. These events have inspired pupils and breathed life into books.
The school was well on its journey to creating a culture of reading when it came across the One Education Reading Award. The District’s headteacher at the time, Diane Bate, saw that the Reading Award criteria, resources and access to CPD would be a way to continue to ignite a passion for books so that the children continued to progress still further, whilst looking at ensuring skills in ‘Reading for Decoding’ and ‘Reading for Understanding’ were the best that they could be.
When asked about the One Education Reading Award, the teacher (and driving force behind all of the determination to creating a positive reading culture at that The District) said:
“We’re really excited to use the Reading Award to help us reflect and evaluate our practice in teaching reading across the whole school. The Reading Award will give us a chance to celebrate what we do well and to prioritise areas to improve.”
The District wants every child to associate reading with a smile, so they show a confidence and desire to read. At The District, #ReadingRocks, and the pupils regularly tell visitors just that! The Year of Reading left a wonderful legacy but it was definitely only the beginning….
Heather Wright is one of 12 workshop hosts at the One Education Literacy Conference on 12 October 2017. She will be discussing her school’s reading journey and how to make reading rock at your school.
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